Despite Lord Davies's recent dishonest response to the Lady Mar in the House of Lords, those discards are not the result of market forces but of EU quotas.
Nor was his estimate of discards particularly accurate. Back in January 2008 Lord Pearson or Rannoch asked this Starred Question:
How many tonnes of dead fish are thrown back into the sea each year under the European Union’s common fisheries policy; and what prospect they see of ending this practice.HMG in the person of Lord Davies of Oldham preferred to clear its throat instead of giving an answer that they know would shock most people.
My Lords, no estimates exist for the overall amount of discards in European Union fisheries. However, there is a general recognition that this problem needs to be accurately addressed. We are working with the fishing industry, as well as with the Commission and other member states, to find appropriate solutions that affect the particular circumstances of individual fisheries.We all know how successful that working with other member states and the Commission has been for the last thirty-odd years. However, it is not entirely true to say that there are no estimates for discards as Lord Pearson pointed out in his follow-up comment:
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that reply. Let us hope that this proposed reform, like others before it, does not end up in the long seaweed.That reform that is not wanted by other countries whose fish is not being destroyed, is still being blocked. As we know from that more recent debate (discussed here) only countries who run their own fishing industry can create sensible policies. But it is nice to think of all those articulated lorries discarding dead fish around Whitehall.
When the Minister says that there are no official estimates, is he aware that Fisheries Commissioner Borg has estimated that 880,000 tonnes of fish are thrown back dead every year? If the Government accept that an articulated lorry holds 42 tonnes of fish, do they agree that the EU’s dead fish amount to 20,000 articulated lorries, which would fill the Palace of Westminster, and Whitehall, several times over? Will the noble Lord tell us precisely who has been blocking reform of this policy for so many years, and how?